Chapter 20 : In Which Kenna Gets a Letter, Penny Gives it Up, and Nobody is in Love
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After I gave her a blistering lecture about the perils of interfering in the relationships of others, Katie was remarkably subdued for the next two weeks. I won’t take all the credit for that; I have reason to believe that Oliver gave her a set-down as well. And not only that, but we had a Quidditch match to prepare for. There wasn’t time enough in the day to eat, sleep, go to class, practice, and squabble, especially since Oliver had bumped up the practice schedule again. I barely saw Aidan at all, even at mealtimes, because Oliver had us so busy.
Of course, all that preparation paid off. We ended up slaughtering Slytherin two days before Valentine’s. I attributed the win to several very important things.
First, I had to give Oliver a bunch of credit. I mentioned, casually, right before the match began, that Flint, Slytherin’s Captain and lead Chaser, was in love with him. I also might have mentioned that he could use that to our advantage. Oliver grumbled a bit, but I also might have said something along the lines of “If you do this, it’ll go a long way towards me forgiving you for being an arse.” He looked confused, and I mouthed the words “Dormitories. You. Katie. My bed.” It was quite pleasant to see him blush and squirm, then look embarrassed and horrified. I then proceeded to explain to him just how to go about ruining Flint’s game. Sure enough, when Madame Hooch told the Captains to shake hands, Oliver winked conspiratorially at Flint, whose mouth couldn’t seem to close completely. He jerked his hand back reflexively and turned a bright pink. It wasn’t an attractive look for him, poor troll.
And then, all throughout the match, any time Flint came anywhere near Oliver, Oliver did his best to distract him, saying things like “Veritaserum” and “Potions class” loudly enough for everyone around him to hear. Of course, all the spectators immediately started bringing up Flint’s unfortunate confession of love, and the poor sod seemed incapable of throwing the Quaffle straight due to all the unwanted attention.
The second reason we won was because we have the best bloody Chasers in the school. Well, that and Angelina was feeling particularly vicious. Apparently, she and Fred had a fight before the match, so Angelina was taking her anger out on the Slytherins. Fred appeared to be doing the same, and if I’d been paying more attention, I probably would have winced at some of the Bludger hits the Slytherins took.
And the third reason? I’ll just say I’m a bloody brilliant Seeker and leave it at that. I can’t be falsely modest, and if I talk about how amazing I am for long periods of time, my head is liable to inflate to the size of….well, Oliver's. So I won’t. Talk, that is. At least, not about Quidditch.
So…after the rousing success that was the Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match, there was a routine to go back to. My anger at Katie for meddling had cooled enough for me to be at least slightly rational. She never actually lied and said that she and Oliver were still together; at least, I don’t think she did. Technically, she could have been telling the complete truth; for reasons of her own that I would probably never understand, she actually could have wanted Oliver to know that she and Cedric were together. Probably not the case, but possible. Although…I had to consider that by having me let Oliver know, she was trying to send him a message; Cedric was the one she’d always been after, and she’d gotten him. So maybe she was trying to tell him to stick around and wait for my relationship with Aidan to run its course? Who knows. I certainly wasn’t going to ask her about it; for one thing, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, and for another, if she told me, I’d probably have to do another self-analysis where I asked myself just what I wanted and expected from my relationship with Aidan. I’ve never been one for casual relationships, but I couldn’t exactly qualify ours as serious, either. We saw each other at meals and in class. He walked me to my Common Room. When we had the time, we snogged a bit. But when we were done, we were done; I’d never felt the urge to pull him back to me and let him ravish me against a wall. And I never went to bed unable to sleep because the memory of being with him was reliving itself over and over in my head. Aidan was there; considerate, sweet, good-looking, and funny. He never had off days, and he put up with mine. In a perfect world, where girls like me wanted things that were good for them instead of things that made them slightly sick to their stomachs, where nice blokes were what everyone aspired to have, Aidan would be the first one I’d pick.
I wasn’t in love with him. But if I could have been in love with anyone, it would be him. And that had to count for something, right????
But back to Katie. She had meddled, yes. If it had been anyone else, I would have kicked them out of my life. But despite her crazy way of going about it, I knew that Katie had only been doing what she thought was necessary; getting me to talk to Oliver again, and probably a lot more than that. My friends were inquisitive, meddling, annoying, and never knew when to give anything up, but they had my back. And even when they went about things completely wrong, I sort of appreciated it. It was rather annoying to be able to look at things like that rationally, when I’d much rather hate her guts forever, but there it was.
I won’t say I’d forgiven her completely; despite her good intentions, she needed to learn to let things alone. But we were working on it.
So things were back to what passed as normal. Riley had found herself the object of attention of none other than Brian Samson, Aidan’s best mate. Despite his inability to stop cursing for longer than ten minutes, Brian was a pretty great bloke. Not at all my type, considering he was only a few inches taller than me and rather skinny, not to mention his hair was rather long, but he was still fairly attractive, I supposed. And he’d been obsessed with Riley for almost a month, since the first time she’d joined me at the Hufflepuff table for a meal. It was rather sweet, actually. Especially considering the fact that Riley appeared completely oblivious. I don’t know how; Brian, who was in several classes with the two of us, had never really approached any of us unless he was with Aidan, and now he was suddenly dogging our footsteps, asking Riley her opinion on Professor Sprout’s teaching methods, the Finches chances at winning the League Cup, and basically anything else he could think of to hold her attention. If she didn’t get it soon, I was going to have to talk to both of them; Brian to tell him that he should go for it, my friend was just clueless, and Riley to tell her to just get a clue.
But other than that, nothing unusual was really going on. Fred and George had detention for the next month for cornering Mrs. Norris and putting a talking cat collar on her, one that spewed obscenities at Filch any time he came near her. Alicia was obsessing with the colour of her nails. All in all, we were being our normal little Gryffindor family unit on the morning of Valentine’s Day. And that’s when it happened.
Percy Weasley walked in. Normally, none of us would notice (or care), but today was special. First off, Percy hadn’t yet donned his school robes, which was unusual for him. Secondly, he was late; breakfast was due to end in twenty minutes, and Percy was normally down before everyone. Thirdly, he was wearing an expression that was even more smug than normal, and his Head Boy badge looked extra shiny.
But the most important thing was he and Penelope Clearwater walked down hand in hand. Penelope was giggling, which was about as appealing as nails on a chalkboard. She also looked incredibly smug. But those weren’t the important parts. The important part was that they were wearing matching sweaters. Bright pink sweaters covered in little red hearts.
I was the first to spot them, at least at our table. And when I did, I couldn’t control myself. “Holy shit!!” I shrieked. My friends all looked in the direction I was pointing. Their reactions were almost too wonderful for words. Angelina and Alicia looked horrified. Katie looked vaguely intrigued. Fred and George looked impish, and I knew they were going to land themselves detention again. Riley looked vaguely confused. And Oliver and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Of course, this meant that Percy had to drag poor Penny over and glare at us. “And just what is your problem?” he demanded. The tears began leaking out of my eyes as I realized the sweaters also had the initials P.W and P.C intertwined all over the sleeves. “Nothing, Percy.” I choked. “It’s just...you guys are almost blinding.”
“What do you mean by that?” Penelope whinged.
“The sweaters are hideous.” Fred piped up helpfully. “Where’d you get them?”
Percy puffed up. “I’ll have you know, Penny made them both. I think they’re quite stylish.”
George snorted. “Yeah, well, your definition of stylish is definitely different than mi—Oi!” he interrupted himself. “Fred! D’you know what this means????”
“No. What?” Fred asked between mouthfuls of food. George just looked at him for a moment, then turned to include the rest of us.
“Penny finally gave it up.” he whispered conspiratorially, though it was quite obvious our Heads could still hear.
“Gave what up?” Riley and Katie asked almost simultaneously.
“You know....” Fred trailed off. “It. They had an encounter of a sexual nature.” His voice was rising on every syllable. “Penny and Percy shagged last night. Why else would he agree to wear that hideous thing?”
“That’s highly insulting and completely incorrect.” Percy said stiffly. “Detentions for all of you. And thirty points from Gry—“
“Might want to rethink that, Percy old chap.” George said with a laugh. “Or we’ll write Mum and tell her you shagged the Head Girl.”
“I didn’t!” Percy interrupted again, but he was beet red. This naturally made us all laugh harder. “But fine. I don’t need you spreading lies to Mum about me.” The pair of them walked off, and the rest of breakfast was a merry affair. As much as it disgusted me, Percy Weasley had had sex, and he was never going to be able to live it down.
And, though I didn’t know it, that was when my day gradually started going downhill. A few weeks earlier, my mum, who is not huge on owl correspondence (I think she shares my dislike of the birds, though I can’t be sure), had sent me a letter. Apparently, she just felt it necessary for me to know that Smith was no longer angry at me for not dating Oliver; according to Mum, he was cooking up some plot to get the two of us together. And, of course, he was completely ignoring the fact that we were both dating different people at the time. Mum had prattled on about how she and Dad had both liked Aidan immensely. There was something about me passing onto Oliver that the Arrows’ Keeper was likely going to be retiring at the end of the year, and that Oliver should try out. When I’d answered back, I hadn’t told her that Oliver’s hopes were set on getting an offer from Puddlemere United, or, as a fallback, the Finches. My mum and dad didn’t need me to tell them that Oliver was good enough to merit offers on his own, not just because the father of one of his friends happened to be on the, well, we’ll call it the Board of Directors, of the Arrows franchise. Dad was Quidditch-mad, and as he happened to be a direct descendant of the team’s founders, he had a special seat. He wasn’t in charge by any means, but he did have some influence, and if he pointed a coach towards Oliver, it was likely he’d get an offer.
I had, however, mentioned to Mum that Oliver and I had been fighting. I told her some of the details about the whole Oliver/Katie/my bed thing, about Katie asking me to tell Oliver about her and Cedric. And a great deal about what happened when I actually told Oliver, except for when I left out that I’d fancied him. Normally, I wouldn’t have told my mum any of this; not because I couldn’t tell her things, but because I had my friends to bitch to. If I had a problem or an issue, they typically knew about it. But I couldn’t talk to any of them about Oliver anymore; Riley was the only one who knew I’d admitted I still fancied Oliver. And this was before Christmas. The rest of them were likely to harp on me about giving Oliver a chance, how I was letting a good thing go, and if I didn’t go easy on him, he might go psychotic and Quidditch Nazi on us again. They just didn’t understand that my feelings for Oliver were too complicated to deal with; they were there, and for the moment, I could still shove them to the back of my mind. Until it got to the point where I could no longer do so, I had no way to try to explain to any one of them but Riley just what was going on.
Except for Mum. Because, you know, she’s my mum. She takes my side, and she listens, and she only tells me I’m being stupid if I really need to hear it. I knew that if I ever had my heart broken, I could tell her, and not only would she not tell anyone else, but she’d send me chocolate, and the next time she saw me, she’d make it clear I could cry and no one would have to know. I suppose most mums are like that, but I never really think about it.
Turns out I maybe should have thought about it a bit more.
Right after Percy and his twat of a girlfriend stalked off, the morning owls came in. Stupid owls. There wasn’t really enough time for anyone to read what they’d gotten, seeing as classes began in less than ten minutes. But that was owls for you. Never thinking about anyone but themselves, always being so selfish and stuff. Except I’m not really sure whether owls think consciously or not, but I’m sure if they did, they’d be completely selfish thoughts.
But anyways. The owls were late. And interestingly enough, I had another letter from my mother. I had expected her to maybe owl me back a couple days after I sent her my letter, but she hadn’t. I figured after about a week that she wasn’t going to respond at all, and I was fine with that. I had just needed to rant, not to have someone comfort me. So when an owl flew directly over my head and dropped something in my lap, I was more than a bit surprised.
Of course, because the bloody owls were late, I didn’t have a chance to read it. And though I normally wouldn’t shy away from not paying attention in class, it was getting to close to the end of the year. I didn’t want to slack and not get to leave school like that idiot Flint. And I suppose the fact that I had to go to Snape’s class was a bit of a deterrent as well. For one thing, if he caught me, and he would, I’d have detentions forever. And while my potion skills had improved vastly this year (I almost never blew things up anymore), I didn’t think I could afford to not pay attention. Not to mention Snape had a nasty habit of testing us on our potion-making skills when we least expected it.
So I shoved the letter in my pocket and hoped I would get the chance to read it soon, preferably by lunch.
As I’d expected, Potions was horrible. Snape was in a particularly foul mood, probably something to do with the fact that his House had just lost a Quidditch match, and I barely had enough time to take notes, let alone even think about the letter concealed underneath my robes.
Transfiguration class was just as bad. McGonagall had decided that she was going to start increasing our workload immensely because “N.E.W.T.s were soon approaching,” even though it’s still only the middle of February, and N.E.W.T.s take place near the end of May. Plus, for some reason she kept giving me the evil eye. You’d think that today of all days, I’d be one of her favourite people; we had just won a Quidditch match, after all. But Minnie seemed.....almost disappointed in me. I knew I hadn’t been doing my absolute best in her class lately; I’d been rather distracted, first by Quidditch, then by boys, then by Quidditch again. But it wasn’t as if I was doing too badly, so I didn’t know what her problem was. And on top of that, she decided to tell us we’d be having a series of practices exams in order to prepare for N.E.W.T.s during the next month or so. I barely managed to keep from groaning aloud, but hey, I’ve been working on my self-control a lot lately, so it’s getting easier!
Thankfully, after Transfiguration, I had lunch to look forward to, and then a break before I went to Herbology. I could read my letter, think about replying, eat, and then torment my friends for a while before I had to do anything else.
I decided to read the letter while I ate. Killing two birds with one stone, and all that. As I piled my plate with cottage pie, I tore it open. At first, it sounded normal enough. And then...then I had to re-read the bloody thing four or five times before it hit me. “Sodding hell.” I exclaimed, forgetting all about my food. My outburst brought me inquisitive glances.
“Everything alright, Kenna?” Oliver asked. I couldn’t even look at him, not after what I’d just read.
“Yes...no...I have to...I’ll see you all later.” I finally managed to spit out. Then I dashed out of the Great Hall and practically ran up to the dormitory. Maybe reading it again in peace and quiet would change what my mum had had to say.
But no. It changed nothing. And still, I had to read through one last time, just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
I’m glad to hear that things are still going well between you and that Aidan of yours. He’s such a sweet boy. He seems to understand you very well indeed. And I’m quite sad to hear that things haven’t been going well between you and Oliver. Now, Kenna, I’m not saying you should forgive him; what he said was horrible, and he should have to make it up to you somehow.
I’m just saying, as your mum, and as someone who was once a teenage girl, that you might want to be a bit more understanding. Now I know that sounds ridiculous, considering he called you such awful names and made you feel so bad, but please, darling, hear me out before you blow me off. Boys, men, blokes, whatever you want to call them, however old they are, are frequently incredibly stupid. Not to say that they’re unintelligent, just stupid. They can’t seem to help it; any time anyone gets close emotionally or hurts them, be it physical or emotional or just stupid male pride, they say and do things that we females, as the smarter and more tactful portion of the human race, find offensive. Not that Oliver’s not responsible for his actions, but really, dear, take into the account that he can’t help himself. That’s not even mentioning that he’s enormously attracted to you. In fact, if I’m going to be honest, I have to tell you it’s more than that. I know he’s told you he fancies you, but Kenna, have you considered the fact that it’s more than that? As a mother, well...Kenna, he’s in love with you.
And don’t you dare throw this letter away or burn it or tear it into shreds until you’ve read all the way through. Trust me, I’ll know if that happens. I may not be a witch, but I’ve been married to a wizard for twenty years, and I’m your mum. I have eyes in the back of my head.
Now. He loves you, Kenna. I've seen the way he looks at you; it's not something a young man like him can hide. He might not know it, and you might not believe it, but it’s still true. So how do you think it must have made him feel for you, the girl he loves, to walk in and see him with someone else? Not only that, but you only appeared to care because they were on your bed. You caught him at a vulnerable moment and you hit his weak spots. Oliver’s a good boy, but he’s got a temper, and a strong personality. You can’t expect someone like him to step back and take a hit without hitting back. From the sound of it, he hit you in your weak spot as well.
Give him time, love, and give him a chance. You won’t be sorry for it.
That being said, I’m sorry the two of you fought. And I’m sorry Katie stepped in and made you confront him. But I have to ask, seeing as I gave birth to you, if you really know what you’re doing. I know you care for Aidan; as I said, he’s a nice, sweet boy. He’s exactly the type of young man I’d choose for you if my opinion was what counted. But darling, are you really happy being with him? I love you enormously, you know that, but you’re a difficult girl, Kenna. You’re headstrong and impatient and impetuous and emotional. You’re such a clever, bright girl, and you’ve never been afraid to fight for what you want. And as nice and wonderful as this Aidan is, he’s not for you. Oh, I know, you’ve not even left school yet, and you’ve no business searching for lifetimes and forever afters. But you need to be with someone who’s your match; you won’t ever be happy with a man who won’t ever fight with you or make you think or make you ache inside. And no, I haven’t been reading those trashy books you love so much.
I’m not saying you should dump this boyfriend of yours out in the cold. I’m just saying that you should consider that he’s not the one for you. Knowing you, love, you’ve already figured this out, but still have no idea what to do about it.
But consider the fact that you’re in love with Oliver as well. And no, I’m not done, so you can’t burn this just yet, or whatever you were about to do. You’re in love with him. I don’t expect you to admit it, but I doubt this is the first time you’ve heard someone say those words about you. Give him a chance. Give yourself a chance, too. Hasn’t he proved that you’re all he wants?
You’ll be eighteen in a few weeks, Kenna. You’re not a little girl anymore. So you can’t tell me what’s hurting and have it be fixed just like that. And you can’t skate through life without feeling something stronger than just liking for some boy. You’re always saying that you only do serious relationships, but isn’t it funny that Aidan and Oliver are the only ones you’ve ever treated seriously? I know that you and Oliver only dated for a few weeks. Just as I know that he’s been after you all the time since, and that you never really gave up on him.
Don’t give up now, either, baby girl. You’re made of sterner stuff than that.
My mother knew me too well. Not that she was right about Oliver being in love with me (or vice versa), but that she knew that my first reaction to hearing something like that would be to destroy the letter. She’s pretty smart....some of the time.
But right now, she’s just stupid. I’m not in love with Oliver. I’m not. It’s impossible; we make the world’s worst couple. We fight all the time, we rarely agree on anything, and I spend the majority of my time trying to drive him insane. He whistles solely because he knows it annoys me. Of course, none of this stopped me from fancying him, or him me. But still. The only thing that ever went right between us was that trip to Hogsmeade where he kissed me, and even that eventually turned out to be disastrous. How could I possibly be in love with someone who made me so furious??? I wasn’t even in love with Aidan, and Aidan was almost as perfect as a person could possibly be.
And the idea of Oliver being in love with me was just...ridiculous. Impossible. Improbable. Improper. And lots of other words beginning with ‘im.’ It was never going to happen. Never. Not in a million years. I wouldn’t let it. I couldn’t let it.
My reply was short. I’m sure that’s exactly what Mum expected.
You’re completely wrong. He doesn’t love me, and I don’t love him. I do love you, though.
I just didn’t have the energy for anything more. Oliver in love with me? It was preposterous. Me in love with Oliver?
No. Just no. It hadn’t happened. I wasn’t in love with him. I wasn’t in love with him. I wasn’t.
A/N: Well. There it is. I hope that at least parts of this amused you, though I don't expect you guys to find it nearly as humorous as other chapters have been. But seriously. What do you guys think about Percy/Penelope? Kenna's letter? Quidditch? The state of the union? Okay, kidding on that one, but still. I'd love to hear what you guys think!
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